Presenting a Beamer Talk the Right Way

I sometimes use Beamer (a LaTex package) to prepare slides for conference or seminar presentations, and sometimes I use Keynote.

Keynote has a simple but very desirable feature: during the presentation, the laptop screen, instead of going blank or showing a copy of the current slide, shows the current slide, and the next slide, and a timer. If you have ever used Keynote, you know how useful it is to have the time and the next slide always in front of you.

When a slide presentation is prepared with Beamer, the output is a pdf file which is then displayed using Acrobat Reader, or the OS X Preview application, and one gets a blank screen on the laptop during the presentation. Since pdf handling is built natively into OS X, and since a timer and a next-slide display are really simple things, I assumed there would be some program that would do a Keynote-style presentation from a pdf file.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any such thing for OS X. (Interestingly, there is a program for Windows that does that.)

Thankfully, Melissa O’Neil has done the next best thing, or maybe an equally good thing: a program that converts a pdf file into a Keynote file. So you can create your pdf with Beamer, then convert it to the Keynote format, and use Keynote to display the presentation.

Not the cleanest of workflows, but it works. Thanks, Melissa O’Neil!

12 thoughts on “Presenting a Beamer Talk the Right Way

  1. On Mac, the Skim application shows you the current slide on the laptop, and is also great for writing papers in LaTeX (forward- and reverse-search with text editor, automatic reload when the PDF file is recompiled, …). But I’m not sure why you get a blank laptop screen with Reader or Preview — this might be a (mis)configuration in your System Preferences (possibly related to Keynote’s two-screen feature?).

  2. Right, it’s not a “blank” screen, it’s the desktop with whatever windows are open, or it’s the current slide if I “mirror” the laptop display to the projector display (which I prefer not to do because the best resolution for the projector might be not available on the laptop, and this causes the presentation to be projected at a sub-optimal resolution)

  3. As a former student of Melissa’s, I’ve used this software, and it, like her, is great: but that’s not how you spell her name.

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